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Thursday, 5 December 1974


Mr ENDERBY - I do recall the question the honourable gentleman asked a week or so ago, and in fact much of what I said in response to the last question that was put to me is applicable to this question as well. It does sometimes strike one as odd that sums of money which match their earnings for the previous 6 months can be paid under the income maintenance scheme to employees who have been retrenched for a particular reason, when they are not engaged in any productive form of activity. It is partly in response to that that the special assistance scheme for non-metropolitan areas was introduced. As honourable members know, 1 announced here the other day that substantial sums of money have been approved to be paid to a number of firms in non-metropolitan areas, most of them, I recall, being in the textile industry. I think I am correct in saying that the total figure to date is about $1.5m In large measure those sums of money do what the honourable member suggests. In very round terms, they equate with the cost of the labour component in the cost structure of those firms. That means, of course, that the firms are able to continue, and continue in production particularly. It is sometimes said that at this time, because of other problems in the economy, there is difficulty in disposing of the goods being produced, but surely that should not continue because, as the market stabilises, the goods should be disposed of. I will take the matter further, as the honourable member suggests.







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